I invited the faculty member who inspired me to talk about aliens to sit in on the class. Her reaction:
That was a fun class to sit in on–thank you for the invitation! I learned alot, and so must they have. You got some lively conversation going. Seems like the people who actually care sit towards the front. From the back row where I sat, there were many students with computers open just surfing the web, writing papers for other classes, or messing with their phones. If that were my kid and my tuition dollars, I would have a few choice things to say to her/him. Why do they even bother to attend–warm place to sit and free wifi? How can you stand it?–have you ever surveyed to find out why they bother? Arrrggghhh–you have my empathy
This is an important mystery. Some students at the back text me asking me to put a stop to the distracting behavior of other students (that’s hard – I can’t see who it is. Why don’t the texting students just move to the empty space at the front?). I have been for a walk up the back several times, and it really is the badlands. The students up there don’t even care that I see them doing something else. Mind you, it is not as bad as some other classes. One faculty member saw a student watching porn at the back of his class.
I do wonder why these students bother turning up. I take a few marks for attendance – are they that desperate? Or do they think something percolates in, even when they are not listening? Lots of regular attendees do poorly on my tests. I assume they are the ones sitting there not paying attention. One hypothesis which was put to me tonight is that they like the soothing tones of my New Zealand accent. Groupies? Seems unlikely.
But my colleague has a good point: as a parent about to shift money from my retirement fund to my kids’ college education, I would be outraged if my kids go to class and ignore it.
How best to ask these students why they bother coming (and take a seat from from someone who could not get on the course)? Imagine the questionnaire. Do you attend and pay no attention because (a) Andrew has a sexy accent, (b) it is a warm place with wifi (c) I want my parents to feel they are getting their money’s worth (d) masochism: college education is something to endure.